We arrive at the airport by taxi at approximately 7:30 a.m. and it looks similar to the way it was when we landed. Barren. Aviatrix does a preflight inspection and checks the weather. It turns out that there is some fog to burn off so no need for me to be in a hurry. The receptionist shows up and opens the base station. Shortly after, another airport employee shows up with the prison work crew. They also have some new gas cans and the airport employee offers to drive me to the gas station to fill up the cans with MOGAS.
Half an hour later, the prison labour is filling my plane with gas. Aviatrix is in the base station and I am doing the head count – number of prisoners versus myself and the airport employee. I think I can run faster than the airport employee. The manager shows up and then we are equal. All in all, a very hospitable stop. Even the flock of wild turkeys next to the runway seem hospitable, standing idly by giving us the right of way.
Our next stop is Forest, Virginia. The flying has been great and we are starting to see more terrain. I am getting more comfortable flying and I continue to enjoy the experience. The next airstrip we land at is really special – it has MOGAS! This should save us some time. The time it takes to find gas cans and then drive to a gas station has really encumbered on our down time. We land and the base station looks like an old garage or service station from the 50’s or 60’s, only instead of cars there are planes all over. I fill up my plane and there is a large calculator by the gas pump. You calculate the amount that you owe for the gas and then deposit the cash or a check in a can. Everything is done on the honour system. There isn’t a place at the base station to get something to eat but one of the guys offers to take us to the nearby gas station to get some food. It is a very pretty drive and it looks like a very nice community. We take our lunch back to the base station and eat our lunch with one of the guys, Lionel, who reminisces about some of the earlier years at the strip. The men used to sit around and drink Pepsi cola, eat saltines and yak about planes and topical current events. Sounds pretty good to me. He also tells us a bit about the legendary Rucker Tibbs who flew around the circumference of the U.S. in a Piper. It turns out that this is a very unique strip. It was built as a ¼ mile drag strip and airport operations were added later. Today, the strip is mostly used for planes, however, it is shut down to air traffic every second Sunday for drag racing.
During this stop, there were lots of fellows around and a garage with what seemed like an endless amount of tools. Aviatrix used this opportunity to do a little modification to my haul. She continuously amazes me with her versatility, knowledge and mechanical ability. After a minor adjustment we are ready for the next leg of our journey. Before we enter the cockpit, I notice a cap by the wheel. Lionel has graciously given us a parting gift.
Harbington is close to Camp David. There is a large restricted airspace in close proximity. The base station seems larger than the others on our journey and we are greeted by a guy in a green vest and aviator shades. He takes us into town to get some MOGAS. Aviatrix is questioning him about his flying experience and he instead tries to impress upon us his importance. Aviatrix is quite annoyed because she loves to talk about flying and is disappointed in his banter. After fueling the plane we arrange to get picked up by a hotel shuttle and I use the waiting time as an opportunity to call my husband. Friends have taken pity on him and have invited him over to their house for dinner. They are awaiting my call and have several gathered around the phone to tell me that they are never going in my plane except one new comer, who has expressed an interest. Again, have I asked any of them to fly with me? After several minutes of their Martini induced banter I interject and tell them where we are that we need to get out of their by 10:00 a.m. because the place becomes restricted after that. I also mention my story about Rucker Tibbs. They seem to enjoy the interruption of the dinner party and I say my good byes. After the call Aviatrix and I head to the hotel for a pizza dinner and a good nights sleep. A nice hotel room, a great pizza and even a Law and Order on TV after a great day of flying – life’s good.